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Steve Krumanaker

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  1. Like
    Steve Krumanaker got a reaction from Cal for a blog entry, Making name tags using inkscape   
    I've mentioned that to take advantage of the potential of one of these little laser engravers  there are some software programs to know. One of these is an open source program called "inkscape". To someone who has never used it, inkscape can be intimidating as there are so many menus, options, controls, etc. etc. With a little effort it all starts to make sense and a person begins to understand what is going on. This is a little step-by-step to create a name tag file that can be used with a cnc laser or cnc engraver. Once the main template is created it's a simple matter to change the name to rout or engrave several different tags.
     

     
     

    The picture above is the main screen from inkscape. As you can see there are menus and tool bars all over the place. The only one that concerns us just now is the one on the right of that picture and the close up just to the right of this text. This dialogue defines the size of the document we're creating. One of nice things about inkscape is the ability to create a working page whatever size is needed. For a name tag that's about 3.5"X 2.4". The laser software is written in millimeters so the document will be created in millimeters. In this case, 90X58 millimeters. Inkscape will work in mm, inches, feet, or even pixels. The document page is outlined in the above picture.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    After creating the page three items were added to it. First, a rectangle slightly smaller than the document. This defines the actual size of the name tag as the laser will engrave this box and provide a guide for cutting out the tag. These small lasers aren't powerful enough for actually cutting wood, not even thin veneer. By engraving the rectangle I don't have to measure to cut but can just follow the line inscribed by the laser.
    Then, two decorative ovals were drawn. There are menu boxes to size, position, and manipulate the ovals or any other object. A person can even determine how thick the drawing line is. At this point the file is saved in inkscape as an SVG file. That is the inkscape default format. SVG stands for scale-able vector graphic. That type of graphic can be made larger or smaller without losing detail or resolution. This is now my master template, From now on the only design changes will be different names as required. When a name is added 
    it probably won't be exactly where you want it. For this example I'm going to center it on the page which is also the center point of the ovals. Incidentally, the rectangle and the ovals were centered on the page using the same method. Notice in the example the "name" is selected. It can be moved around, rotated, enlarged, or made smaller.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Centering an object on a page couldn't be easier with inkscape. Simply open the "alignment menu and choose what you want to do. Again, only because the program is so powerful there are many options. Looking at the menu to the right you can see I've chosen to align my name relative to the page. The two symbols I've pointed out represent vertical centering and horizontal centering. Simply clicking on those center the name perfectly on the page. A person can also choose to center items relative to each other or a dozen other options.
     

     
    At this point it does get a little tricky. Its important to keep in mind a laser engraver is basically a plotter and not a printer. A printer moves the print head back and forth. As the paper advances the printer makes a dot in the right place, connect the dots and you get a picture or text. A plotter actually follows a path, much like writing in cursive. So, a path must be created that the plotter can follow. Two more steps and the file will be ready to send to the laser. First, all four objects, the rectangle, the two ovals, and the name must be selected.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    You can see a selection box around all four objects and I've chosen the option "group" in the drop down menu. That will make all of the objects one entity as far as inkscape is concerned. If I enlarge one, they will all be enlarged the same amount. After grouping them the selection boxes morph into one box as there is now only one object.
    At this point there is one more operation before the file can be saved and that is to add the object to the "path" After, the file is saved in "DXF" format which is a "desktop cutting plotter" file.
     
     
     
     
     

     
     
    This may seem a lot of steps but in reality it takes about five minutes to do this start to finish. Once the master template is created the name can edited in about a minute. This is a very simple example of creating a file that a laser or cnc engraver can read. The next step is to open the laser software and load the dxf file for engraving.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  2. Like
    Steve Krumanaker reacted to Gerald for a blog entry, Cherry Entertainment Center   
    Cherry Entertainment Towers

    Posted 8/25/2007 11:36 PM CDT

    Had been encouraged by the wife to build these for some time now. Spent maybe a year checking other designs an making plans. Tracking my time and will give it when finish.

        The towers are 6 ft tall X 22 inch wide and 24 inch deep.Caucus began with making raised panels for the sides. The sizes basically echo the interior.


    The panels are prefinished with BLO and Garnet Shellac for base color. Will cover all with varnish on exterior when complete.

    Glue up of a panel this size and number of panels was a challenge and provided several lessons in how to get the panels and rail in evenly.

    Dados cut into rails to fit plywood shelves and make for a more secure joint.

    Caracas glue up using blocks cut to ensure square. Sides are rabbited to give more glue area for face frames. Face frames are joined together with pocket screws.

    Caracas with face frame attached now ready for base of 2X4 lumber with covering of cherry with simple molded edge

    The crown molding was a 4 piece made at the router table (top plate, crown and cove) and tablesaw (dentel)


    This is what the build on the molding looks like.

     
    After a few years we got rid of the old tv for an LED so needed a stand.. Made this to fit the existing spot and placed wheels on it for ease of wiring. Shelves made to fit existing equipment . Was expecting to place the bass in the large hole and place a door on it but changed my mind after reading about magnets and tvs.

    Used pocket screws for a hump over the wheels so that they do not appear to the eye,

    This almost makes the shlf look like it is floating . Once trim was added to front wheels are covered.


    Forgot to take a pic of the completed stand so had to stop and do that. The top is beaded and has a beaded molding added plus a cove.
     
     


  3. Like
    Steve Krumanaker got a reaction from John Morris for a blog entry, Making name tags using inkscape   
    I've mentioned that to take advantage of the potential of one of these little laser engravers  there are some software programs to know. One of these is an open source program called "inkscape". To someone who has never used it, inkscape can be intimidating as there are so many menus, options, controls, etc. etc. With a little effort it all starts to make sense and a person begins to understand what is going on. This is a little step-by-step to create a name tag file that can be used with a cnc laser or cnc engraver. Once the main template is created it's a simple matter to change the name to rout or engrave several different tags.
     

     
     

    The picture above is the main screen from inkscape. As you can see there are menus and tool bars all over the place. The only one that concerns us just now is the one on the right of that picture and the close up just to the right of this text. This dialogue defines the size of the document we're creating. One of nice things about inkscape is the ability to create a working page whatever size is needed. For a name tag that's about 3.5"X 2.4". The laser software is written in millimeters so the document will be created in millimeters. In this case, 90X58 millimeters. Inkscape will work in mm, inches, feet, or even pixels. The document page is outlined in the above picture.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    After creating the page three items were added to it. First, a rectangle slightly smaller than the document. This defines the actual size of the name tag as the laser will engrave this box and provide a guide for cutting out the tag. These small lasers aren't powerful enough for actually cutting wood, not even thin veneer. By engraving the rectangle I don't have to measure to cut but can just follow the line inscribed by the laser.
    Then, two decorative ovals were drawn. There are menu boxes to size, position, and manipulate the ovals or any other object. A person can even determine how thick the drawing line is. At this point the file is saved in inkscape as an SVG file. That is the inkscape default format. SVG stands for scale-able vector graphic. That type of graphic can be made larger or smaller without losing detail or resolution. This is now my master template, From now on the only design changes will be different names as required. When a name is added 
    it probably won't be exactly where you want it. For this example I'm going to center it on the page which is also the center point of the ovals. Incidentally, the rectangle and the ovals were centered on the page using the same method. Notice in the example the "name" is selected. It can be moved around, rotated, enlarged, or made smaller.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Centering an object on a page couldn't be easier with inkscape. Simply open the "alignment menu and choose what you want to do. Again, only because the program is so powerful there are many options. Looking at the menu to the right you can see I've chosen to align my name relative to the page. The two symbols I've pointed out represent vertical centering and horizontal centering. Simply clicking on those center the name perfectly on the page. A person can also choose to center items relative to each other or a dozen other options.
     

     
    At this point it does get a little tricky. Its important to keep in mind a laser engraver is basically a plotter and not a printer. A printer moves the print head back and forth. As the paper advances the printer makes a dot in the right place, connect the dots and you get a picture or text. A plotter actually follows a path, much like writing in cursive. So, a path must be created that the plotter can follow. Two more steps and the file will be ready to send to the laser. First, all four objects, the rectangle, the two ovals, and the name must be selected.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    You can see a selection box around all four objects and I've chosen the option "group" in the drop down menu. That will make all of the objects one entity as far as inkscape is concerned. If I enlarge one, they will all be enlarged the same amount. After grouping them the selection boxes morph into one box as there is now only one object.
    At this point there is one more operation before the file can be saved and that is to add the object to the "path" After, the file is saved in "DXF" format which is a "desktop cutting plotter" file.
     
     
     
     
     

     
     
    This may seem a lot of steps but in reality it takes about five minutes to do this start to finish. Once the master template is created the name can edited in about a minute. This is a very simple example of creating a file that a laser or cnc engraver can read. The next step is to open the laser software and load the dxf file for engraving.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  4. Like
    Steve Krumanaker reacted to lew for a blog entry, Turned Kitchen Scoops   
    So I'm down to making gifts for the nurses at my doctor's office. I rarely visit the office for a "Sick Call" but I do take care of their computers. It's always an inconvenience for the nurses when I have to interrupt their routines, so I try and make up for it by making each of them a little something every year. 
     
    My sister gave me this idea a couple of years ago when she gifted me a turned scoop and I've been meaning to make some ever since. I had some walnut and maple boards left from previous projects so they got glued into turning blanks.

     
    Some were all walnut and some were walnut and maple combinations. Mounted between lathe centers, I turned a chuck tenon on each blank.

     
    Over the years, I got tired of measuring the calipers every time I turned a chuck tenon so I made this quick little helper jig to make the measurements. One side is for the tenon, the other side of the jig is for measuring for the outside of the chuck mounting.

     
     
    Sizing the tenon

     
    As I was making a bunch of these, I do each operation to all of the blanks before moving on to the next step.

     
    Next, removed the drive center and replaced it with the chuck and prepared to drill out the bulk of the material for the scoops. The first hole was just under 2" in diameter (my largest Forstner bit)

     
    this hole set the depth of the scoop. Because I wanted the "back" of the scoop to be more rounded, I needed to also set the depth limit of that portion as well. I used my shop made drilling gauge to finish out the settings.

     

     
    Finished drilling

     
    The blanks were then remounted in the chuck in preparation for completing the insides. To assure the blanks get centered properly, I made a cone adapter that fits over the tail stock live center
     
    Once securely chucked, The cone is pulled out and work can begin enlarging and shaping the inside. Each of the square blanks were slightly different dimensions, so every scoop was unique.

     
    I did sand the inside of each blank as it was shaped using my shop made ball sander. The ball sander is from Mr. David Reed Smith. You can read the free instructions here- http://www.davidreedsmith.com/articles/foamballsander/foamballsander.htm.

     
    Once the inside was sanded, the outside of the blank was rounded, using the cone for support. I have several of these cones- of different sizes- and they really come in handy.

     
    To be able to shape the outside of the scoops, I needed to reference to depth of the rounded "back". A simple depth indicator does the trick.

     
    (Notice the black indicator mark near the chuck end of the blank. I have gotten into the habit of marking my blanks with a reference mark that aligns with a reference mark on the chuck. This assures the blanks are always remounted in the same orientation in the chuck.) 
     
    The depth of the recess is transferred to the outside of the rounded blank.
     

     
    The blanks are all marked and read for shaping.
     

     
    Set the overall length, and shape the scoops

     
     

     
     
    When I finished the shaping and sanding, I had 9 "bells" of which I forgot to take a picture.
     
    Anyway, To convert the "bells" into scoops, I needed to cut each one on the bandsaw. Problem here was trying to safely hold each one and to be sure the cut was vertical across the scoop opening. To accomplish this I made a jig to hold the scoop. The following pictures describe the process-

     

     
    This hole was drilled almost through the blank and then enlarged to match the average diameter of the scoops.

     

     

     
     
    A piece of 1/4" plywood in tacked to one of the jaws of the wooden screw clamp and one half of the drilled block is also attached to that jaw. The opposite jaw with attached half block is free to move.

     

     
    The jig and its' base made it easy to cut the curved profile on the scoop opening.

     
    All cut and ready for finish sanding

     
    With the hot bee's wax/mineral oil finish

     
    I think the presents are done for this year. A few extra scoops in case we need a quick present- or I forgot some one! Thanks for following along!
  5. Like
    Steve Krumanaker got a reaction from John Morris for a blog entry, Getting to know what's possible   
    While it may not seem so at first glance, a laser engraver is much like a table saw, a lathe, or even a router. Now that you have it, what can you do with it? Not much as it's a "core" tool. With a table saw, an add on might be a dado set, or molding heads. A special sled or jig. A lathe is very dependent on other tools to prep stock. Different operations on a lathe require different accessories.  A hollow vessel requires completely different tools than a spindle. Of course, a router or shaper must have bit's or cutters to be functional at all. Not to mention a fence or sled.  A laser engraver? Well, it must have graphics and/or documents to do what it does.
    That may seem a simple matter, after all, there are thousands of images just waiting to be downloaded. While this is true, many of them are copyrighted and water marked. What if a person can't find the "just right" image to download? What if someone has a special request, like a graphic of a specific scene or pet? How to add text to a picture? How to make the picture fit on what is to be engraved? What if only a part of the image is to be engraved?
     
    Let's address image size and making it fit the project first. It's fairly easy to enlarge or shrink an image. Windows paint can do it as can any number of programs. The problem is, enlarging or shrinking an image often results in loss of detail and crispness.

    This is an image called Odin's triangle, printed, or burned it will be about 3" tall and 3" wide. The lines that form the triangle are fairly crisp and sharp. This is what is called a "raster" image. That means it's made up of tiny dots of different color arranged in a pattern. What if I wanted the image to be bigger? Say, 3 times as big.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    You can see, the enlarged image isn't nearly as sharp as the original. This will happen with any raster image, that includes image files like bmp, gif, jpg, to name a few different types of raster images. The answer is to convert the picture to a "vector" image. A vector image is drawn according to a mathematical formula. No matter how big or small the image is, the formula remains the same. What that means is, the image always remains sharp and crisp.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    What if a person had a picture of a leaf they wanted to use? 

    Easy enough to do, but what if only an outline is needed? What about using more than one leaf? What about overlapping them? That way it would look like one leaf laying on top of the other. That would be great for wood burning, painting, carving, etc. etc. So, let's use the leaf picture at the right, copy it and paste it to look like one leaf is on top of the other.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    It will look something like this.
    Hmmm, not exactly what we had in mind, is it? Why didn't it work?
    Well, because a bitmap, ie, jpeg, gif, bmp, can only have one layer and there has to be a back ground. Normally the background is white and on a white page  you can't see it, it's still there and will make it's presence known at the worse times.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Wouldn't this look much better?  This isn't the best job of editing as I still have a little back ground showing but that is easily addressed. The programs that manipulate images like this are the tools or accessories a wood burner or a laser engraver needs to be much more flexible than it would be otherwise. These programs are also very useful to a wood carver or pyrographer.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    So, what are the programs that work this magic and how much do they cost? Probably the most well known is Adobe illustrator. To the best of my knowledge, illustrator can only be leased at this point. Licenses start at around $10.00 a month. Not a lot of money but for a now and then user not a good value either. 
    Fortunately, there are completely free alternatives. The two programs I use are "Gimp" and "Inkscape" Both are open source and completely free for downloading, although I recommend only downloading from their official websites.
     
    https://www.gimp.org/
     
    https://inkscape.org/en/
     
    These are two powerful, full featured programs for manipulating images. Because they are so powerful, there is a steep learning curve associated with either of them. This section of the blog is not meant to be a tutorial on using these programs, but rather just to introduce them to someone who may not be aware they are available. While there is a steep learning curve with either, there are also dozens and dozens of tutorial videos on youtube about them.
     
  6. Like
    Steve Krumanaker got a reaction from Cal for a blog entry, Getting to know what's possible   
    While it may not seem so at first glance, a laser engraver is much like a table saw, a lathe, or even a router. Now that you have it, what can you do with it? Not much as it's a "core" tool. With a table saw, an add on might be a dado set, or molding heads. A special sled or jig. A lathe is very dependent on other tools to prep stock. Different operations on a lathe require different accessories.  A hollow vessel requires completely different tools than a spindle. Of course, a router or shaper must have bit's or cutters to be functional at all. Not to mention a fence or sled.  A laser engraver? Well, it must have graphics and/or documents to do what it does.
    That may seem a simple matter, after all, there are thousands of images just waiting to be downloaded. While this is true, many of them are copyrighted and water marked. What if a person can't find the "just right" image to download? What if someone has a special request, like a graphic of a specific scene or pet? How to add text to a picture? How to make the picture fit on what is to be engraved? What if only a part of the image is to be engraved?
     
    Let's address image size and making it fit the project first. It's fairly easy to enlarge or shrink an image. Windows paint can do it as can any number of programs. The problem is, enlarging or shrinking an image often results in loss of detail and crispness.

    This is an image called Odin's triangle, printed, or burned it will be about 3" tall and 3" wide. The lines that form the triangle are fairly crisp and sharp. This is what is called a "raster" image. That means it's made up of tiny dots of different color arranged in a pattern. What if I wanted the image to be bigger? Say, 3 times as big.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    You can see, the enlarged image isn't nearly as sharp as the original. This will happen with any raster image, that includes image files like bmp, gif, jpg, to name a few different types of raster images. The answer is to convert the picture to a "vector" image. A vector image is drawn according to a mathematical formula. No matter how big or small the image is, the formula remains the same. What that means is, the image always remains sharp and crisp.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    What if a person had a picture of a leaf they wanted to use? 

    Easy enough to do, but what if only an outline is needed? What about using more than one leaf? What about overlapping them? That way it would look like one leaf laying on top of the other. That would be great for wood burning, painting, carving, etc. etc. So, let's use the leaf picture at the right, copy it and paste it to look like one leaf is on top of the other.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    It will look something like this.
    Hmmm, not exactly what we had in mind, is it? Why didn't it work?
    Well, because a bitmap, ie, jpeg, gif, bmp, can only have one layer and there has to be a back ground. Normally the background is white and on a white page  you can't see it, it's still there and will make it's presence known at the worse times.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Wouldn't this look much better?  This isn't the best job of editing as I still have a little back ground showing but that is easily addressed. The programs that manipulate images like this are the tools or accessories a wood burner or a laser engraver needs to be much more flexible than it would be otherwise. These programs are also very useful to a wood carver or pyrographer.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    So, what are the programs that work this magic and how much do they cost? Probably the most well known is Adobe illustrator. To the best of my knowledge, illustrator can only be leased at this point. Licenses start at around $10.00 a month. Not a lot of money but for a now and then user not a good value either. 
    Fortunately, there are completely free alternatives. The two programs I use are "Gimp" and "Inkscape" Both are open source and completely free for downloading, although I recommend only downloading from their official websites.
     
    https://www.gimp.org/
     
    https://inkscape.org/en/
     
    These are two powerful, full featured programs for manipulating images. Because they are so powerful, there is a steep learning curve associated with either of them. This section of the blog is not meant to be a tutorial on using these programs, but rather just to introduce them to someone who may not be aware they are available. While there is a steep learning curve with either, there are also dozens and dozens of tutorial videos on youtube about them.
     
  7. Like
    Steve Krumanaker got a reaction from lew for a blog entry, Getting to know what's possible   
    While it may not seem so at first glance, a laser engraver is much like a table saw, a lathe, or even a router. Now that you have it, what can you do with it? Not much as it's a "core" tool. With a table saw, an add on might be a dado set, or molding heads. A special sled or jig. A lathe is very dependent on other tools to prep stock. Different operations on a lathe require different accessories.  A hollow vessel requires completely different tools than a spindle. Of course, a router or shaper must have bit's or cutters to be functional at all. Not to mention a fence or sled.  A laser engraver? Well, it must have graphics and/or documents to do what it does.
    That may seem a simple matter, after all, there are thousands of images just waiting to be downloaded. While this is true, many of them are copyrighted and water marked. What if a person can't find the "just right" image to download? What if someone has a special request, like a graphic of a specific scene or pet? How to add text to a picture? How to make the picture fit on what is to be engraved? What if only a part of the image is to be engraved?
     
    Let's address image size and making it fit the project first. It's fairly easy to enlarge or shrink an image. Windows paint can do it as can any number of programs. The problem is, enlarging or shrinking an image often results in loss of detail and crispness.

    This is an image called Odin's triangle, printed, or burned it will be about 3" tall and 3" wide. The lines that form the triangle are fairly crisp and sharp. This is what is called a "raster" image. That means it's made up of tiny dots of different color arranged in a pattern. What if I wanted the image to be bigger? Say, 3 times as big.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    You can see, the enlarged image isn't nearly as sharp as the original. This will happen with any raster image, that includes image files like bmp, gif, jpg, to name a few different types of raster images. The answer is to convert the picture to a "vector" image. A vector image is drawn according to a mathematical formula. No matter how big or small the image is, the formula remains the same. What that means is, the image always remains sharp and crisp.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    What if a person had a picture of a leaf they wanted to use? 

    Easy enough to do, but what if only an outline is needed? What about using more than one leaf? What about overlapping them? That way it would look like one leaf laying on top of the other. That would be great for wood burning, painting, carving, etc. etc. So, let's use the leaf picture at the right, copy it and paste it to look like one leaf is on top of the other.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    It will look something like this.
    Hmmm, not exactly what we had in mind, is it? Why didn't it work?
    Well, because a bitmap, ie, jpeg, gif, bmp, can only have one layer and there has to be a back ground. Normally the background is white and on a white page  you can't see it, it's still there and will make it's presence known at the worse times.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Wouldn't this look much better?  This isn't the best job of editing as I still have a little back ground showing but that is easily addressed. The programs that manipulate images like this are the tools or accessories a wood burner or a laser engraver needs to be much more flexible than it would be otherwise. These programs are also very useful to a wood carver or pyrographer.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    So, what are the programs that work this magic and how much do they cost? Probably the most well known is Adobe illustrator. To the best of my knowledge, illustrator can only be leased at this point. Licenses start at around $10.00 a month. Not a lot of money but for a now and then user not a good value either. 
    Fortunately, there are completely free alternatives. The two programs I use are "Gimp" and "Inkscape" Both are open source and completely free for downloading, although I recommend only downloading from their official websites.
     
    https://www.gimp.org/
     
    https://inkscape.org/en/
     
    These are two powerful, full featured programs for manipulating images. Because they are so powerful, there is a steep learning curve associated with either of them. This section of the blog is not meant to be a tutorial on using these programs, but rather just to introduce them to someone who may not be aware they are available. While there is a steep learning curve with either, there are also dozens and dozens of tutorial videos on youtube about them.
     
  8. Like
    Steve Krumanaker reacted to lew for a blog entry, Optical Illusion Cutting Board For Mr. Ostrasky   
    I started senior high school in 1961. Somehow, fate steered me into the vocational program of building construction. My teacher was Mr. Lester Ostrasky. Most of us have had that one teacher that we never forget. The one that had the greatest influence on our lives- Mr. Ostrasky is that teacher. Starting in my sophomore year, I gave him a Christmas present and have done so every year since. After the Navy and a few years at the Letterkenny Army Depot, I started my teaching career at the new Vocational Center. Mr. Ostrasky was teaching there also. Now we were teaching partners but he still offered guidance to the "new kid". Though we are both retired, we still exchange gifts.
     
    This year, I've made him an optical illusion cutting board. Although the illusion isn't as pronounced as I had hoped, I think he will be pleased.
     
    The board is made from walnut and maple and is an edge grain design. I started by milling and gluing up the alternating strips. Then planed the blank to the final thickness and cut it into strips.

     
    Unlike most of the checker board type cutting boards, the alternating squares needed to radiate out from the center and the finished board has each corner the same color square. To accomplish this, I made an extra row strip that would later be removed.

     
    The illusion is created by alternate colored inserts strategically placed within the squares. Some of these boards use round inserts (dowels) and others use square inserts.
    I decided on square ones. Square holes were relative easy as I have a hollow mortiser. The problem was that the "throat" depth was not nearly deep enough to reach the center squares. To overcome this problem, I delayed gluing the strips together until after the square holes were made. 
     
    Accurate spacing of the inserts is essential for the illusion so I dry assembled the board and clamped it securely.

     

     
    Once the pieces were secured, I scored lines to help locate the square holes. Then added black dots to further identify the hole locations.

     
    Because the holes were equal distance from each edge of the strips I set the mortiser fence to provide consistent placement. The center of the holes were on the scribed lines.

     
    Now it was just a matter of punching the holes into each strip and then reassembling the board with glue.

     
    Once the board was assembled,  a couple of passes through the drum sander to smooth the surfaces.

    I also needed to clean up the holes so the pegs would seat correctly. A sharp chisel took care of that.
     
    The pegs were made from long 1/4" x 1/4" sticks. A simple bandsaw jig made for quick cutting.

     
    Pegs were glued into the holes. 

     
    The extra peg lengths were cut off and the board sanded with a random orbital sander.

     
    A liberal coating of Bumble Bee Butter to protect the surface.

     
    In hindsight, I should have created the square pegs differently. The pegs are positioned with the end grain showing. The end grain of the maple plugs darkened more than I had expected. They look more like cherry. If the plugs had been created with the edge grain up, I think the contrasts would have been greater and the illusion more pronounced. But just to prove the checkers are all perfectly square, here's the back

     
    . Next up will be Terry and Dian's chip and cheese platter.
  9. Like
    Steve Krumanaker got a reaction from Gerald for a blog entry, The Software....   
    After assembling the machine it's time to install the software. I have to say before I get into that, assembling the machine is well within the scope of most any wood workers ability. It's kind of like Lincoln logs. If a person takes it in small steps and doesn't look at the overall picture, it's not too daunting. Like my brother's wife always says, "it's hard by the yard, but it's a cinch by the inch" she is right.
     
    Now, what can I say about the software? A lot, and not much. It's important to keep in mind, for myself, as much as anyone. This is a bare bones, entry level, hobby machine. It will engrave an area approximately 11" X 14" and will cost 2-300 dollars depending on the time of day, literally. Any of the name brand machines, like Epilog, will cost a few thousand for their entry level machine. I'm not comparing my machine to those at all, they are more refined, more powerful, more capable, etc. etc.
     
    Like the instructions, the software must be downloaded from the banggood website. Its kind of confusing just what to do once it's downloaded and there is zero technical support. Once again, I knew that going in. And like before, I spent several hours googling, researching, watching video, reading instructables and struggling to install the software and get it working. One big problem is that most virus software doesn't like it, so it won't allow the package to install. A person basically has to disable virus protection during the install process, something I didn't care to do.
     
    After the software is installed, the computer must be configured to communicate with the laser, guess what?  Back to youtube, google, instructables, etc. etc. to find out how to do that. Again, hours were spent figuring it out. In fact, I never did get that first software package to work but downloaded a different package from gearbest.com and finally I could communicate with my machine.
     
    The engraving program included with the software is called "benbox". It is a very, very basic setup. To give an idea how basic, it always loads in Chinese, so every time a person starts the program they must choose a different language, unless of course, they speak Chinese. Basic settings must be restored every time the program is started, such as laser speed, power, etc. etc. You can't save a profile, like if you find settings that work well with maple, they must be written in a notebook and re-entered each time a person would burn maple. A person must also go through the steps to connect with the machine every time it starts. None of this is a big deal but it's not what most of us are used to with a program.
    Even so, eventually I was ready to try to engrave something. The first several times I tried, mostly what I made was a black hole in whatever I was using, It seemed no matter what,  that was the result. At the risk of repeating myself, once more, google, youtube, etc. etc. etc. After much research, tweaking, setting up and testing I got to where I could get the black hole to move slightly and make little square boxes that kind of resembled charcoal, frustration was beginning to set in and I began to wonder if I'd wasted both time and money.
    Back to the web, finally I thought, maybe there was a benbox forum? Guess what, there is.  benboxlaser forum  All I can say is, forums are a gift, in only an hour or so I had learned enough on the benbox forum I was able to engrave a simple gif of a horse.

     
    Not the most impressive bit of laser engraving but hey, it was a start. The next few days I spent a lot of time on that forum. I have to say it again, a good forum, like this one, and from my limited experience, the benbox forum is one of the best things about the net.
    In just a short time, I learned much about the capabilities of the software and the machine. I also saw, there are people who own this machine doing some very nice work with it. I also learned the machine is capable of much but is limited severely by the included software. For instance, with benbox, the laser itself only knows on or off, there are no degrees of power. In a nutshell, what that means a person can etch dark or not at all. There is no gray scale. That's kind of a big deal. For outlines, silhouettes, or something like a Celtic knot, black or white is just fine. For a picture of any kind, gray scale is a must.
     
    As I was browsing the forum one thing I noticed was many of the members weren't using the benbox program but instead a program called "t2laser". As I started reading more I discovered one of members had gotten frustrated with benbox and was smart enough to develop t2laser, which according to many who post there is a much better option. It didn't take much to convince to download a trial version and after a few tests, buy and install the registered version which he sells for $39.00. At this point I have about $250.00 in this venture. Well, after using the new software I am seriously impressed with it. Very user friendly, easy to configure and the gentleman responds to questions in a few minutes most of the time.
     
    I am still very early in the learning curve with this machine and this software but also very encouraged with recent results.
     
    One of the items I make quite a few of, are decorative lids for mason jars, and/or honey dippers for mason jars. One of the main things I wanted to do with this machine was to embellish the lids to increase the value of them. I did a couple test lids today using the t2laser software and I'm really pretty happy with the results. One of these is maple and the other is walnut, same settings on both. The nice thing is, once the setup is made, the little laser can work on it's own while I'm doing something else. So, that's where I am at this point, still lots to learn but that's part of the fun isn't it? If someone were to ask me if the machine is worth the cost, I would say it is to me without doubt, just for the learning experience, the rest is all gravy.
     
     
     
  10. Like
    Steve Krumanaker got a reaction from Grandpadave52 for a blog entry, Pulling the trigger   
    Thought hard about this segment and came up with all sorts of reasons and justifications for even wanting a laser engraver. The honest truth is, I've just always liked gadgets. Never mind I intend to use it for embellishing some of my turnings if and when I figure out how to use it.
    There are some youtube videos with turners using small machines to make “signature disks” they let into the bottoms of their bowls or vessels. The machines cost about $90.00 and do a surprisingly good job. The down side is they will only do an area about 3” square and are limited in height. I thought if I ever got one I would like more capacity and flexibility so I spent a little more and bought a machine that will etch an area about 11”X14” There are several vendors that sell these machines, banggood.com, gearbest.com, aliexpress.com, to name a few. I suspect they are all made in the same factory. At any rate I bought this machine from banggood.com. One thing I will say, if, and when a person may decide to purchase one of these, be patient and watch for price fluctuations. The price will change almost daily and move as much as a hundred dollars one way or the other.  So, what do you get for, in my case, about $200.00? Basically, a box of parts. I have to
    to admit, the parts were packaged very nicely. Everything was organized and easy to get to. All of the necessary hardware and tool are included in a little plastic compartmentalized plastic case.  One thing to note about these kits, they don't come with printed instructions. I imagine that's to save expense as they are shipped all over the world. There is a video of a machine being assembled on the banggood website and there are "assembly" pictures as well.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    When you get right down to it, there really isn't a lot to one of these machines. The little box at the top right contains the power supply and the laser. Next to it is a pile of plexiglass parts that are machined to hold the motors and for the aluminum extrusions to fasten to. Four corner brackets to assemble the frame, a "gift" pack of small wood test pieces. 5 pieces of aluminum extrusion and the controller board next to that. And, of course, the little box of hardware and tools. The three stepper motors and various cables are not in this picture. That's about it.
     
     
     
     
     
     
    So, I watched the video several times and looked at the assembly illustrations. For some reason Banggood.com has made the video and pictures so a person can't save them to a computer. Seems crazy to me, but whatever. My shop is about 90 feet from our house and surprisingly, I can access our home network in the shop, if, and only if, my computer is next to the wall closest to the house. My workbench is near the opposite end of the shop and trust me, it's no small feat to change that. So, I would go to one end of my shop, watch a little of the video and run back to my bench to assemble the part I could remember. Being in my 60's that wasn't a lot. Back and forth and back and forth.
    The assembly starts with putting together the frame which is aluminum channel fastened together with corner brackets. I did that on my router table surface so everything would be nice and flat. The extrusions that make up the frame are two 1" X 1" and two 1" X 2"  channels. I don't know if they are real 8020 or a knockoff but those aluminum channels have changed how we do so many things.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    The next step is to assemble the motors and bearings to the machined plexiglass components. Fortunately, this is all pretty straightforward stuff as the online "instructions", if they can be called that are not the best. I knew that before hand though so I can't complain. The bearings ride in the groove in the aluminum channel and it's actually quite smooth.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    I should probably note that this is not meant to be a "how-to" as far assembly goes. There are a few third party videos on youtube which are better than a series of pictures showing how it all goes together. Once a person gets into the project a little it all starts to make sense. After the motors and the bearings are attached the gantry supports are put on the channel and the feet are attached. I would guess by this point I'm about two or three hours into it. A good part of that time is watching video to make sure it's put together correctly.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    As wood workers, we joke about our toys when we get a new tool for the shop. Most of us know that these "toys" can hurt a person. Something like this may seem a little less risky. The opposite is true. A person doesn't even have to be near one of these to suffer eye damage as just the reflected light from one of them can be harmful. The most important safety rule with one of these is;
    "Don't look into the laser with your remaining eye."
    After the feet are attached the laser is installed and the gantry assembly is mounted. After that, the wiring begins and its all plug in connectors so that's not a big deal.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    After several hours of studying video, restudying video, hard work, and paying close attention to detail I'm done except for putting on some wire wraps to tidy everything up. Once I get the software loaded I'll be ready to do some laser engraving...........
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    on the ceiling, doh, mounted the laser upside down. Thankfully it's a simple of flipping the gantry channel over as it will mount either way. Now, on to loading the software and doing some world class etching!
     
     
  11. Like
    Steve Krumanaker got a reaction from Cal for a blog entry, Pulling the trigger   
    Thought hard about this segment and came up with all sorts of reasons and justifications for even wanting a laser engraver. The honest truth is, I've just always liked gadgets. Never mind I intend to use it for embellishing some of my turnings if and when I figure out how to use it.
    There are some youtube videos with turners using small machines to make “signature disks” they let into the bottoms of their bowls or vessels. The machines cost about $90.00 and do a surprisingly good job. The down side is they will only do an area about 3” square and are limited in height. I thought if I ever got one I would like more capacity and flexibility so I spent a little more and bought a machine that will etch an area about 11”X14” There are several vendors that sell these machines, banggood.com, gearbest.com, aliexpress.com, to name a few. I suspect they are all made in the same factory. At any rate I bought this machine from banggood.com. One thing I will say, if, and when a person may decide to purchase one of these, be patient and watch for price fluctuations. The price will change almost daily and move as much as a hundred dollars one way or the other.  So, what do you get for, in my case, about $200.00? Basically, a box of parts. I have to
    to admit, the parts were packaged very nicely. Everything was organized and easy to get to. All of the necessary hardware and tool are included in a little plastic compartmentalized plastic case.  One thing to note about these kits, they don't come with printed instructions. I imagine that's to save expense as they are shipped all over the world. There is a video of a machine being assembled on the banggood website and there are "assembly" pictures as well.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    When you get right down to it, there really isn't a lot to one of these machines. The little box at the top right contains the power supply and the laser. Next to it is a pile of plexiglass parts that are machined to hold the motors and for the aluminum extrusions to fasten to. Four corner brackets to assemble the frame, a "gift" pack of small wood test pieces. 5 pieces of aluminum extrusion and the controller board next to that. And, of course, the little box of hardware and tools. The three stepper motors and various cables are not in this picture. That's about it.
     
     
     
     
     
     
    So, I watched the video several times and looked at the assembly illustrations. For some reason Banggood.com has made the video and pictures so a person can't save them to a computer. Seems crazy to me, but whatever. My shop is about 90 feet from our house and surprisingly, I can access our home network in the shop, if, and only if, my computer is next to the wall closest to the house. My workbench is near the opposite end of the shop and trust me, it's no small feat to change that. So, I would go to one end of my shop, watch a little of the video and run back to my bench to assemble the part I could remember. Being in my 60's that wasn't a lot. Back and forth and back and forth.
    The assembly starts with putting together the frame which is aluminum channel fastened together with corner brackets. I did that on my router table surface so everything would be nice and flat. The extrusions that make up the frame are two 1" X 1" and two 1" X 2"  channels. I don't know if they are real 8020 or a knockoff but those aluminum channels have changed how we do so many things.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    The next step is to assemble the motors and bearings to the machined plexiglass components. Fortunately, this is all pretty straightforward stuff as the online "instructions", if they can be called that are not the best. I knew that before hand though so I can't complain. The bearings ride in the groove in the aluminum channel and it's actually quite smooth.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    I should probably note that this is not meant to be a "how-to" as far assembly goes. There are a few third party videos on youtube which are better than a series of pictures showing how it all goes together. Once a person gets into the project a little it all starts to make sense. After the motors and the bearings are attached the gantry supports are put on the channel and the feet are attached. I would guess by this point I'm about two or three hours into it. A good part of that time is watching video to make sure it's put together correctly.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    As wood workers, we joke about our toys when we get a new tool for the shop. Most of us know that these "toys" can hurt a person. Something like this may seem a little less risky. The opposite is true. A person doesn't even have to be near one of these to suffer eye damage as just the reflected light from one of them can be harmful. The most important safety rule with one of these is;
    "Don't look into the laser with your remaining eye."
    After the feet are attached the laser is installed and the gantry assembly is mounted. After that, the wiring begins and its all plug in connectors so that's not a big deal.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    After several hours of studying video, restudying video, hard work, and paying close attention to detail I'm done except for putting on some wire wraps to tidy everything up. Once I get the software loaded I'll be ready to do some laser engraving...........
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    on the ceiling, doh, mounted the laser upside down. Thankfully it's a simple of flipping the gantry channel over as it will mount either way. Now, on to loading the software and doing some world class etching!
     
     
  12. Like
    Steve Krumanaker got a reaction from Cal for a blog entry, You just never know.   
    I can remember like it was yesterday. I was spending the night at my best friend's house, Ken and I did that just about every weekend, camping out or hunting, or whatever. For several years we did just about everything together. This particular evening we were in his bedroom, he was showing me the Ham Radio receiver he'd just made from a radio shack kit. I was looking at his Edmund Scientific catalog and he said something about a new invention called a laser. It had to be 1963 or four or maybe a couple years before?
    Anyway, all we knew was, it used mirrors to make the light brighter and was right out of our science fiction books, the future was here! Ken, who was always smarter than me said no one had any idea everything they could be used for, weapons of course but who knew what else? Who indeed? Never did I imagine that one day a wood worker could purchase an affordable laser that was more powerful than anything anyone had imagined back then. Nor could anyone imagine it would be controlled  by a computer to do intricate patterns and pictures. You see, CNC wasn't really to well known  back then either.
    Fast forward, and it has been fast, just 50 short years. I am the proud owner of a cheap CNC laser engraver. The machine I purchased has a working area of about 11X14",  and uses a 2.5watt violet laser. That's the short story, there are several reasons why it's cheap and I don't know as yet if that equates to a good value as they are seldom the same thing. This is a blog about my journey getting to know, learn about, and use one of these marvels people couldn't even imagine not so long ago.
  13. Like
    Steve Krumanaker got a reaction from John Morris for a blog entry, You just never know.   
    I can remember like it was yesterday. I was spending the night at my best friend's house, Ken and I did that just about every weekend, camping out or hunting, or whatever. For several years we did just about everything together. This particular evening we were in his bedroom, he was showing me the Ham Radio receiver he'd just made from a radio shack kit. I was looking at his Edmund Scientific catalog and he said something about a new invention called a laser. It had to be 1963 or four or maybe a couple years before?
    Anyway, all we knew was, it used mirrors to make the light brighter and was right out of our science fiction books, the future was here! Ken, who was always smarter than me said no one had any idea everything they could be used for, weapons of course but who knew what else? Who indeed? Never did I imagine that one day a wood worker could purchase an affordable laser that was more powerful than anything anyone had imagined back then. Nor could anyone imagine it would be controlled  by a computer to do intricate patterns and pictures. You see, CNC wasn't really to well known  back then either.
    Fast forward, and it has been fast, just 50 short years. I am the proud owner of a cheap CNC laser engraver. The machine I purchased has a working area of about 11X14",  and uses a 2.5watt violet laser. That's the short story, there are several reasons why it's cheap and I don't know as yet if that equates to a good value as they are seldom the same thing. This is a blog about my journey getting to know, learn about, and use one of these marvels people couldn't even imagine not so long ago.
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